400 Coding ‘Ninjas’ Join DkIT’s First Ever Megadojo

19 October 2018

More than 400 young people (‘ninjas’) and their families travelled to DkIT from across the North Leinster-South Ulster region to take part in region’s first ever Megadojo.

Megadojo was coordinated by the School of Informatics & Creative Arts and included volunteers from DkIT staff, students and local Coderdojo mentors. Speaking about the day, DkIT Computing lecturer and lead Megadojo coordinator, Peter Gosling said,

We were delighted to see so many young people take part in the Megadojo. These young participants are the tech leaders of the future and their success is important for the continued economic growth of our region. It was fantastic to see them so engaged in the coding workshops and explore their curiosity for technology as they took part in the problem-solving exercises.

I’d like to thank all the staff, students and volunteers for their support in making the event a success. As the largest coding event for young people ever to be held in the region, we are confident that it will become an annual event. "

‘Women in Technology’ was a prominent theme at the event and three female computing graduates and CoderDojo mentors from DkIT participated in a series of talks to discuss their career pathways in IT. Karen Aungier, from County Kildare is a graduate of the BA in Computing in Software Development and is now a QA Analyst for Celtic Testing, a software testing company based in the Regional Development Centre on campus. Speaking about the importance of promoting careers in technology to young girls, Karen commented,

I am fortunate to work in a tech company where women are well represented however, unfortunately the statistics show that this is not the case in the industry as a whole. It is important that we continue to promote IT as an attractive career pathway to young girls. That’s why initiatives such as Coderdojo and Megadojo are so important. It’s wonderful to see so many young female ninjas here today.”

Tara McGivern, from Dundalk graduated from the BSc. Hons in Computing in Games Development in 2017 and is a Software Developer for Accenture subsidiary, Avanade. Tara is a former mentor at the DkIT Coderdojo and speaking about her return to the Institute she said,

Nothing feels better than coming back to DKIT and being able to help alongside my former lecturers. It’s fantastic to see the college launch its first ever Megadojo. With technology now playing more prominent role in our everyday lives, it is great to see kids being exposed to coding from such a young age. It really is a fantastic initiative and I hope to see it continued in the future.”

Natalia Salmanova from County Cavan is a graduate of the BA (Hons) in Computing at DkIT and is now Junior Software Engineer at Dundalk-based technology company, Prometric. She added,

Technology is impacting all areas of our lives and it is disrupting many traditional industries. For example, even in teaching the traditional blackboard is a thing of the past and has been replaced by interactive whiteboards. It is important that our young people today are trained in the skills necessary to continue Ireland’s reputation for innovation in technology. As a young woman in this sector, I feel it is also important to act as an ambassador for other women and encourage them to enter this field.”

Commenting on the day, Fiona Lawless Head of Department of Computing Science and Mathematics said,

Approximately 30% of our attendees today were female. While this is a positive statistic, we really would prefer that it was around the 50% mark. More work is needed to encourage young girls to consider careers in STEM, in particular computing. It is fantastic to have some of our amazing graduates come back and discuss their own experiences in commencing a career in this continually expanding sector. The technology sector employs approximately 105,000 people in Ireland and according to the latest ICT Skills Action Plan, Ireland is likely to face an average increase in demand for high-level ICT skills of around 5% a year. The opportunities for young people in this sector, and in particular young women really are endless.”

In addition to the Women In Tech feature, representatives from leading Sports Analytics company STATSports & Dundalk FC were in attendance to discuss how technology is permeating the professional sporting arena. The day also included a cool tech demonstration from the Irish Coast Guard. The presence of the BUMBLEance (official charity of MegaDojo 2018) was an added bonus as it allowed everyone to see where the donations will go to.

Megadojo is a national voluntary initiative supported by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) and Coderdojo. The initiative is part of CodeWeekEU and was launched by the Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD in Dublin on 14 September 2018.


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